Two children have been injured by Croatian police when they opened fire on a van carrying migrants in Srb near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina on Wednesday night.
The police reportedly tried several times to stop the van before opening fire when the vehicle broke a roadblock. The driver then stopped the vehicle and fled into the woods. The injuries to the Afghan and an Iraqi boy are not to be life threatening, though they were taken to hospital in the city of Zadar in a serious condition.
The police discovered 29 migrants on board the vehicle, including two children injured by gunfire. Other passengers also needed care as a result of the the cramped conditions in the overloaded van.
Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic said he regretted the incident but supported the police, who “protect the borders against illegal migration.”
It was around 22:00 local time on Wednesday night that the police fired at a van registered in Austria that had crossed the border illegally from Bosnia and then refused to stop at a checkpoint, according to a spokesperson for the police. “The driver did not stop after several warnings. He finally passed through a roadblock and drove towards the police. The police reaction was justified. They were forced to open fire because their lives were in danger,” said Ranko Drazina, the Zadar police chief.
Seven people were slightly injured as the driver, who has yet to be located, tried to evade the police before he fled into the surrounding woods.
Officials in Bosnia said this week that about 5,000 migrants had entered the country this year. Border police have stepped up controls along the 1,000 kilometre-long border.